SC bench split on govt’s black money plea

SC bench split on govt’s black money plea

New Delhi: A Supreme Court bench comprising justices Altamas Kabir and Surinder Singh Nijjar was split over the union government’s plea to recall and modify the order passed by the court on 4 July which created a special investigative team (SIT) to probe the issue of clandestine monies stashed in foreign bank accounts.

To break the tie, the matter will now be referred to Chief Justice S.H. Kapadia, who in turn will constitute a larger bench for the case to be heard.

Justice Kabir was in favour of hearing the union government’s application while justice Nijjar was not. The court’s earlier order was passed by a bench comprising justices B. Sudershan Reddy (now retired) and Nijjar.

The union government was left red-faced by the Supreme Court’s order in the black money case as the court expressed no confidence in the state’s machinery to get to the bottom of the issue and subjected several senior officials, who head key financial and security institutions, to the authority of two former judges appointed to head the SIT.

The order sparked a debate over jurisdiction and what some referred to as “judicial activism".

The government’s recall application to the court argued that the public interest petitioners in this case (led by Ram Jethmalani), had not asked the court to create an SIT and therefore the court went beyond its mandate in doing so. The petitioners had only asked for an investigation of the matter, attorney general Goolam E. Vahanvati had argued.